Advertising with ultrathin models may soon become a punishable crime in France.
As reported by the Associated Press on Monday, Franceâ€™s health minister, Marisol Touraine, plans to support the countryâ€™s efforts to ban advertising agencies from using models who have an underweight BMI. Olivier VÃ©ran, a socialist policy maker, has proposed two amendments to the bill: 1) modeling agencies will be banned from working with girls who are at risk of health issues and 2) advertisements that glorify being ultrathin and websites that promote anorexic behavior will become criminal offenses.
The offense would be punishable by up to one year in prison and 10,000 euros in fines.
“When you are a model, you must eat and take care of your health,” Touraine told the press on Monday. â€œThis is an important message to young girls, girls who see in these models an aesthetic ideal. This is a good way to proceed.â€ France is not the first country to have cracked down on the super skinny â€œideal.â€ Spain and Israel have passed similar policies, but the influence and power of Paris as a fashion capital will hopefully provide the impetus for change in other countries, too.
In 2007, Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) announced its health initiative to promote healthy body image, and 19 international editions of the June 2012 issue of Vogue dedicated their issues to health and wellness. Even before this initiative took over 19 countries, the British Fashion Council was conducting investigations of health and labour in the London modeling industry, which was published in September 2007 in the journal Fashioning a Healthy Future: The Model Health Inquiry.
Recent studies by the British Fashion Council have shown that models are not only malnourished, but are also encouraged to starve themselves. The Model Health Inquiry also noted that over 25% of the models polled felt â€œvery heavyâ€ or â€œquite heavyâ€ pressure to maintain an unhealthy weight, and that many of these models were from Eastern Europe and felt pressure to stay thin in order to support their families back home.
Models depend on their looks for a paycheck, and extreme expectations can lead to eating disorders or low self-esteem. These issues have become a controversial, career-killing topic that many models are afraid to speak out about for fear of being blacklisted from the industry. While a few model activists like Sara Ziff are fighting for modelsâ€™ rights and welfare through organizations like the Model Alliance, the collective efforts of the French government may make greater strides than any individual or private corporationâ€™s efforts could.-AP